Bridging the Gap: An Interview with Arthur Falbush

Marco Kostaras, Contributing Writer 

You’ve probably seen him walking through the quad, trumpet case in one hand, large Jazzman’s coffee in the other. Or maybe you’ve had class in the Fine Arts building and heard him scolding students from down the hall for not practicing their solos or getting a ridiculously easy music theory question wrong. His name is Arthur Falbush and he is currently one of the most accomplished music professors here at SUNY Oneonta.

Professor Falbush–or Art to his students–has been teaching here at Oneonta for eight years, specializing mainly in jazz. He directs various bands, students and events in the genre, specifically the Oneonta Big Band and the Oneonta Jazz Festival, which brings students from various high schools, SUNY schools and private colleges to Oneonta to perform and compete with each other and receive guidance from various jazz workshops.

Professor Falbush grew up in Smithtown, Long Island, where his dad first piqued his interest in music when he taught him how to play drums, but had to switch to trumpet. He began playing in a local music organization called the Drum and Bugle Corps to play with more experienced musicians and gain experience.

He knew he wanted to become a professional musician the day his mother bought him a Dizzy Gillespie tape. Influenced by Gillespie and artists such as Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, Falbush began teaching not only trumpet at the age of 14, but advanced piano lessons as well, gaining enough experience to begin playing shows in New York City by the time he was in high school. He was originally supposed to go study at the Manhattan School of Music but decided to do his undergraduate degree studies at the University of North Colorado because of the beautiful scenery. He has also attained his graduate studies as well as doctorate at the University of North Texas and SUNY Stony Brook respectively. He began his teaching career in New Zealand and eventually left in order to pursue a freelance career in New York; he then came to Oneonta because it was near enough to the city to pursue his career and teach simultaneously.

As a teacher, Professor Falbush believes that whenever any student walks into his classroom to learn music, they don’t come in with zero experience whether or not they’ve ever picked up an instrument. He believes that people are exposed to music all around them, which, in and of itself is a musical background. It’s simply a matter of coaxing what they know and sharing it with him so he can help them find their path. The thing he enjoys the most about students here at Oneonta is the individuality that each student has; not a single student is the same and they all have interests besides music, this makes them more well-rounded people in his eyes. His favorite class to teach is the Jazz Big Band because it puts him with a large group of diverse musical students where he can explore each player’s own individual improvisational skills and style, as well as the student’s teamwork ability as they come together to play complex jazz pieces.

As a musician, Arthur Falbush has years of experience under his belt. Starting from simple beginnings and putting his nose to the grindstone, he’s amassed invaluable experiences and playing abilities. It’s because of this talent, love and curiosity for music that he was able to go from an unexperienced musician with much to learn to opening one of his biggest gigs at the age of twenty-two in Rome, Italy “It was at that point I was beginning to make my life,” he stated fondly.

So next time you either want to start learning music, jam in a big band or even talk about that Miles Davis album that you found at the local record shop, stop by Arthur Falbush’s office where you’ll get a warm welcome if not a funny insult or two.

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